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How do I get my dog to do that?

Sometimes when out walking my pack I get "can you train my kids to listen like that". But in reality one of the most common things dog trainers hear is "how do I get my dog to do that?". Well, training obviously. But it is so much more than that. What drives a dog to listen, to please and to respond is bond. You can take a dog who knows all the things, and had them over to someone new and there is no guarantee they will listen. Does that mean it was poorly trained? Sometimes. More often the dog just has no drive to please that person because there is no true bond and respect for leadership.

The first time my service dog ever had direct (not indirect, that is different), exposure to an electric shopping cart was on a very busy day in Costco. Now this is not a situation I would try with most dogs, but for her it was ok to do. She had been formally training for her job for about 8 months or so but was doing advanced obedience and public access behavior was solid. I had a friend with me shopping that day so decided to take advantage of the situation and condition her to the electric shopping cart. She breezed through the crowded store like she had been doing it her entire life. Then we hit the cash. Due to covid, the had large plastic curtains dividing the cash areas. These she had only seen once before. The cash we were sent to barely had room for the electric cart never mind an 85lb service dog beside it. Since I always have issues at Costco with adults trying to distract and pet her, I knew having her go behind me was not something I wanted. Yes my friend who have made sure no one got near her, but she shouldn't have to. So, I looked at my dog and said "well, guess you are riding with me". I moved one leg and told her to get on. She climbed up, sat between my legs, tucked her tail and very clearly enjoyed her ride. She rode through the cash and out far enough on the other side to not be in the way as she off loaded. This was a dog who had never been next to a working electric cart, definitely had never ridden anything like that and was only 8 months into training. But she never hesitated to do what she was asked and was not the least bit anxious about any of it. Why? Because our bond is strong and her trust in me is solid. That is the true foundation of any training program, any behavior modification program and the reason our dogs work for and with us.

So, if you have a dog who doesn't listen, is easily distracted or just plain ignores you. Reassess the relationship and rebuild the bond between you. There are so many ways to do this. If you are unsure where to start, reach out for help. You will be amazed at the difference you will see.

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